Interest in Vitamin D has risen considerably recently with many athletes now advised to take daily vitamin D supplements. The reason for this interest is partly not only attributed to the resurgence of the Vitamin D-deficient disease rickets but also due to the discovery of a Vitamin D receptor in many tissues suggesting a more global role for Vitamin D than previously considered. Unlike the other vitamins that are obtained through the diet, Vitamin D is unique since endogenous synthesis following ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure is the predominant route of entry into systemic circulation. Moreover, Vitamin D could be better classed as a seco-steroid, given that its structure is similar to that of a steroid, and its production is derived from a cholesterol precursor (7-dehydrocholesteol) in the skin. The classification of Vitamin D status is currently subject to considerable debate with many authors opposing governing body recommendations. Regardless of the suggested optimal concentration, there is now growing evidence to suggest that many athletes are in fact Vitamin D deficient, especially in the winter months largely as a consequence of inadequate sun exposure, combined with poor dietary practices, although the consequences of such deficiencies are still unclear in athletic populations. Impaired muscle function and reduced regenerative capacity, impaired immune function, poor bone health and even impaired cardiovascular function have all been associated with low Vitamin D in athletes, however, to date, the majority of studies on Vitamin D have described associations and much more research is now needed examining causation.
- 25-Hydroxyvitamin D
- ultraviolet B radiation